From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Clarks and Fishers

All In The Family... Another Trip Down Memory Lane...



I have been thinking today about my great-grandfather Charlie Clark of Ainsworth, Nebraska. I'm ashamed that I don't know more about him. I really need to dig out that geneology packet that my cousin Judy made and try to study it.

Judy has traced the Clark line of the family back to William Clark of "Lewis and Clark" fame. (Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the party that explored the 1803 Louisiana Purchase). My brother studied Judy's papers once and pointed out that whenever there was a fork in the family tree, Judy followed the branch that led to William Clark. Well, that's how family tree research is done, of course. You choose a branch and see where it leads.

Grandpa Clark must have been born in the 1870's, and I think he died in the late 1960's. He lived to be around 90 years old. It seems to me that my brother was a pallbearer in Grandpa Clark's funeral, along with some of the Davis boys who were great-grandkids from Great-Aunt Goldie's side of the family. I must have been away to school at the time because I don't remember attending the funeral.

Grandpa Clark had a ranch near Ainsworth, Nebraska. He probably homesteaded on it, but I don't know that for sure. He married Virginia Fisher, and their children were my grandmother, Nora (Clark) Hill (born in 1907, I believe), and her sister, Goldie (Clark) Davis who was a year or so younger. Great Aunt Goldie is still living, but
Grandma Nora passed away in 1980.

Since Grandpa Clark had no sons, the Clark name has died out in our family. It would be nice if some of the great-great-grandchildren would name some of their children Clark as a middle name. (Just food for thought, kids.)

When the girls were still little, Virginia left Charlie and the girls and moved away. (To put it plainly, she ran off. She abandoned the family.) So Grandpa Clark brought up the girls, and I think they struggled. Grandma Nora only went to the 4th grade in school and was married by the time she was 16. Grandpa Clark had a second wife, Rachel, but I think that was after the girls were grown. I never knew Rachel; she passed away before my time.

But all that aside, I want to write down a few things that I personally remember about Grandpa Clark. In my earliest memories, probably about 1955 or 1956, he was already in his upper 70's. He lived in a little house on the last street on the west side of Ainsworth, and it had a cherry tree in the back yard. The windows on the west side of the house looked out on someone's pasture.

He had an old car (late 1930's or early 1940's model) that he drove around Ainsworth at an extremely slow speed. He didn't drive well because he couldn't see well, and eventually, he had to give up driving altogether which made the streets of Ainsworth much safer, I'm sure. I remember my dad being horrified once when he saw Grandpa Clark back out right in front of someone on Main Street.

When I think of Grandpa Clark, I see a thin little man with wispy white hair, wearing bib overalls. He was usually sitting in his rocker in the corner of the kitchen. Beside him was a sunny south window and a set of shelves stacked with magazines and plants. He liked to read, and he kept several magnifying glasses handy to help him. Against the wall, he had his little bed. The house had a real bedroom and a real living room, but he mainly lived in his kitchen.

He didn't hear well, and I remember everyone shouting at him. I also remember that his eyes were blue but they looked funny. I think he probably had cataracts. Back in those days, the technology did not exist to remove them.

When we stopped to see him, he would call my brother and me over to him and give us each a dime out of his pocket. That was nice of him. A dime was enough to buy two candy bars, ten pieces of bubble gum, or a bottle of soda pop.

Grandpa Clark is the only one of my great-grandparents whom I knew at all. Six of my eight great grandparents had already passed away. My great-grandmother Virginia (Fisher) Clark was still living and I think I met her one time. We called her "Grandma McGrew" when we talked about her because she had married a man named Walt McGrew. Grandma McGrew and Walt lived in Minneapolis when I was little. Later, they moved back to Ainsworth. They were in poor health and Grandma Nora and Great-Aunt Goldie (Grandma McGrew's daughters) helped care for them until they passed away.

I don't remember going to see Grandma McGrew and Walt after they moved back to Ainsworth but I was away to school a lot through those years. Probably my mother and father visited them because they were good-hearted people. I don't think there was a feeling of strong family ties to her because she had been gone ever since the girls were little, as I understand it.

The Fisher side of the family is kind of interesting. Kingfisher, Oklahoma is named for an ancestor whose name was -- ready for this? -- King Fisher. I think it was named for Virginia Fisher's dad who would have been my great-great grandfather and my children's great-great-great grandfather. My Grandma Nora and my great-aunt Goldie went to a town celebration in Kingfisher as guests of honor because they were descendants of King Fisher, the town's founder. That must have been a lot of fun for them. I hope to visit Kingfisher, Oklahoma, myself one of these days.

If any of my family can straighten me out where I'm mistaken, please let me know and I'll revise this.

2 comments:

Trixie said...

If you ever make the trip to Kingfisher, please let me know! That's not too far from Oklahoma City and maybe we could meet!

Genevieve said...

That would be great! I have driven from my brother's place SW of Wichita, KS, through Oklahoma and Arkansas back to Kentucky a couple of times, but have never had time to tour along the way.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.